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What You Should Do With Your Worthless, Used Books

The other day I walked past two books on a Park Slope, Brooklyn sidewalk, a common sight in the neighborhood.Photo by David Seideman

“Please forgive the morbidity, but if you’re lucky enough to still have one or more parents or stepparents alive, it would be wise to start figuring out what you’ll do with their furniture, china, crystal, flatware, jewelry, artwork and tchotchkes when the mournful time comes,” wrote Richard Eisenberg in a helpful post addressed to Americans in their 50s and 60s.

The title: “Sorry, Nobody Wants Your Parents’ Stuff.”  Eisenberg, a fellow Forbes contributor, told the nightmare of unloading the “prized possessions” of his recently deceased 94-year-old father.

Another category that will exhaust your time and patience is books. In a previous post, Are Your Used Books Worth Anything?, I reported from an appraisal event at the recent Antiquarian Book Fair in Manhattan. One expert put the odds of finding a treasure in your home at one in a thousand.

Two valuable Hemingway early editions in the case of BB Rare Books at the book fair. The first printing on the left sells for $5,000. The first edition on the right, $1,750.Photo by David Seideman

If your books are printed after 1970s, missing dust jackets, or are book club editions, you’re out of luck; as were about 98% of the guests at the appraisal event.

I know from assisting my 93-year-old mother sift through her library that there’s no gold on them thar shelves.

One expert called an off-condition book “lamentable.” That’s a lofty word I’ver never heard at sports card shows, my regular beat, which roughly

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